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Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Alchemy: Chrissie Hynde helped us time travel

Mike and I rarely go to concerts, but we scored tickets to see The Pretenders last night. Anticipating the event, I was one excited lady. I loved their hits from 1979 - 1994 including "Brass in Pocket," "I'll Stand by You," "Chain Gang," and "Don't Get Me Wrong" - all ballads, basically. [Hint: this is foreshadowing. "Jaws" music plays.]

Monday, June 25, 2018

Kindness of Strangers

Yesterday I invited my friend Mary to brunch. It turned out to be brunch and crunch when a Milwaukee county bus clipped her car.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Holy Hill Honeymoon

I just looked up my name on Google and found this old blog post I put up on another site in 2005 I think it was. The story still makes me laugh. I used it as the start to my novel Don't Worry Baby. Here's the old blog post . . . . 

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The UEC’s young people made me write a book! . . . And move back to Milwaukee!

 1958, City of Milwaukee, corner of Beckett and Glendale Avenues,
beside my house - I'm on the right.

My brother and my neighbor and I are sitting on a sewer cover, making mud pies.

Glendale Avenue is behind us, before the concrete went in.

How a book gets a start 

I’m a writer and a nature nut. In 2013, with five books published, I realized that none of them were the book I really wanted to write. 

I felt inspired to write a book about young people and nature. But where to start? . . .  Fiction? . . . Nonfiction? . . . A combination of the two? I shared my conundrum with a nature-loving friend, Mike Larson, visitor services manager at the Urban Ecology Center (UEC).

He suggested, “Why don’t you come to Riverside? We’ll walk around and talk about your ideas.”

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Frustration dreams

I hate frustration dreams.

I had a real champeen of a frustration dream last night.

I was in a huge warehouse-like place, trying to get a car wash. There was a long wait. . . and wait . . . and wait. I had a brand-new tiny black kitten in the car with me. I loved that kitten.

Finally I got my car washed, but they forgot to charge me. So I left my car to go give them my money, but got stuck in a line, where I waited. . . and waited. . . and waited.

I eventually gave up on ever getting the chance to pay, and I returned to my where I had left my car. My key worked but it was the wrong car. I talked to an attendant nearby, and he told me that he had moved my car. 

Sure enough, I found my car. But the kitten was gone! Of course the man who moved the car didn't realize the kitten was inside.

I searched and quickly found the little black purring ball of fur. I was happy and I finally drove off.

What are frustrations dreams about? One I get from time to time is that I have to take a final exam in college but don't know what building the exam is being held in. They say a lot of people get those dreams, especially if they were conscientious students.

I don't know why I get them; all I know is that I hate them! . . . although I do laugh at them afterward. 

I wonder about other people . . . does everyone have frustration dreams?

Gail Grenier is the author of Dog Woman, Don't Worry Baby, Dessert First, and Calling All Horses, all available at

Wait until eight . . . for smart phones????

Children give us answers, if we watch them.

Yesterday I took care of three of my grandsons and four of my "borrowed" grandchildren. The borrowed ones aren't blood, but they are dear to me and I've visited them nearly every week as they've grown up.

My husband has been doing a carpentry project in the basement, so to make room, we pushed a bunch of kitchen chairs to one side. Those chairs all in a row reminded me of playing "train" when I was little.

So yesterday, I asked the kids if they'd like to play train. They were on that idea immediately. What followed was about an hour of switching seats, getting "on" and "off" the train, handing pretend tickets to whoever was the conductor at the time, and choosing destinations. 

They also dressed up - in the pictures above, you can see Simon (the conductor) wearing my husband's old cap from the U.S. Coast Guard. And you'll notice that Ariella is adorned with as many leis as she could find in the dress-up bin.

The children's destinations included "Denver, to visit Natalie," "the ball," "the party," and (my favorite) "to see the fish in TheWaukee." (We live in Milwaukee.)

I was thinking how much fun kids can have when left to their own imaginations, when I heard a radio show about a woman who is driving a campaign to inspire parents to hold off giving smart phones to their children. I thought, great! Then I heard the title of the campaign: "Wait 'till they're eight."

WHA ---???????

There aren't enough exclamation points for me to express how I feel about this. 

Childhood is a fairly modern construct. Kids worked like pack mules through much of history. Who can forget the pictures of the soot-stained, hollow-eyed youngsters who worked during the Industrial Revolution?

Part of preserving childhood is allowing young ones the freedom to not worry about certain things. A smart phone adds layers of awareness and worry about things a child doesn't have to bother with. I could go into detail but anyone connected to phones and the Internet knows what I'm talking about.

My vote: keep childhood a time of kitchen chair basement trains and trips to TheWaukee.

Gail Grenier is the author of Don't Worry Baby, Dog Woman, Calling All Horses, and Dessert First, all available at

Friday, September 29, 2017

Bullets Have No Eyes Part 3 – “The Vietnam War” TV series

I watched the last episode of “The Vietnam War” last night and was glad I was home alone. The section about The Wall finally drew the ugly sobbing that had been welling inside me while I watched the other nights of the broadcast.

Thank you, Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, for this 10-part documentary that took 10 years of your lives to create. Thank you to the sponsors who must have donated a gazillion dollars just to get official permissions to use some of the most soulful contemporary music ever written in our county. Thank you to PBS. I’ll be donating more than the pennies I’ve been giving in the past.